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Principles for responsible investment in agriculture to be developed

Committee on World Food Security approves two-year process

Photo: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti
CFS meeting in Rome.
22 October 2012, Rome - A two-year consultation process to develop principles for responsible investment in agriculture that respect rights, livelihoods and resources was approved by the 39th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which ended on Saturday at FAO headquarters. 

Consultations will be carried out at global and regional levels under the auspices of CFS, the foremost inclusive platform for everyone to agree on policies that ensure food security and nutrition for all.  The intergovernmental body is open to effective and meaningful participation by UN bodies, civil society, the private sector, agricultural research institutions, financial institutions and philanthropic foundations.

The principles should be seen as complementary to the "Voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security" endorsed by CFS in May this year after inclusive and participatory negotiations. They will build on existing frameworks and guidelines, and not duplicate work by others.

FAO estimates that the investments required in developing countries to support the required expansion in agricultural output to meet projected demand in 2050 amount to an average net annual investment of $83 billion. This total includes investment needs in primary agriculture and necessary downstream services such as storage and processing facilities. This represents an increase of about 50 percent a year over current levels.

The principles will address all types of investment in agricultural value chains and food systems including smallholder producers, research, extension services and technology transfer. They will include foreign and domestic, public and private small, medium and large-scale investments.

To be effective, the principles should address the concerns of both host countries and investors. Policy and regulatory frameworks need to ensure that development benefits are maximized.

Food insecurity in protracted crises

CFS also recognized the seriousness of food insecurity and malnutrition in countries in protracted or recurrent crises. A multi-stakeholder consultation process was agreed that will result in an Agenda for Action designed to ensure the food security of people affected by such crises, which are often not covered by existing emergency aid and development assistance.


A Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition

Another important achievement of the week was the adoption of the first version of a Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition (GSF).  The GSF will improve cooperation, coordinate actions and support partnerships at global, regional and country levels to prevent future food crises, eliminate hunger and ensure food security and nutrition for all.

Policy recommendations on social protection and climate change

During the week, there were two policy round tables.  The first on social protection for food security recommended adopting the principle that disadvantaged people are already penalized.  Governments should put in place programmes to ensure the food security and nutrition of the most vulnerable is protected, including the first 1,000 days after conception. 

Climate change policy recommendations included increasing public and private investment and international cooperation to enhance food security and nutrition, and developing strategies to deal with food-related climate change issues.  These include weather forecasting, risk management tools and support for small holder farmers. Finally, governments should support farmers to help them increase production and mitigate problems caused by climate change.